|ACT III SCENE III
|The Grecian camp. Before Achilles' tent.
Enter AGAMEMNON, ULYSSES, DIOMEDES, NESTOR, AJAX,
MENELAUS, and CALCHAS
|Now, princes, for the service I have done you,
|The advantage of the time prompts me aloud
|To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind
|That, through the sight I bear in things to love,
|I have abandon'd Troy, left my possession,
|Incurr'd a traitor's name; exposed myself,
|From certain and possess'd conveniences,
|To doubtful fortunes; sequestering from me all
|That time, acquaintance, custom and condition
|Made tame and most familiar to my nature,
|And here, to do you service, am become
|As new into the world, strange, unacquainted:
|I do beseech you, as in way of taste,
|To give me now a little benefit,
|Out of those many register'd in promise,
|Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.
|What wouldst thou of us, Trojan? make demand.
|You have a Trojan prisoner, call'd Antenor,
|Yesterday took: Troy holds him very dear.
|Oft have you--often have you thanks therefore--
|Desired my Cressid in right great exchange,
|Whom Troy hath still denied: but this Antenor,
|I know, is such a wrest in their affairs
|That their negotiations all must slack,
|Wanting his manage; and they will almost
|Give us a prince of blood, a son of Priam,
|In change of him: let him be sent, great princes,
|And he shall buy my daughter; and her presence
|Shall quite strike off all service I have done,
|In most accepted pain.
|Let Diomedes bear him,
|And bring us Cressid hither: Calchas shall have
|What he requests of us. Good Diomed,
|Furnish you fairly for this interchange:
|Withal bring word if Hector will to-morrow
|Be answer'd in his challenge: Ajax is ready.
|This shall I undertake; and 'tis a burden
|Which I am proud to bear.
|[Exeunt DIOMEDES and CALCHAS]
|[Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS, before their tent]
|Achilles stands i' the entrance of his tent:
|Please it our general to pass strangely by him,
|As if he were forgot; and, princes all,
|Lay negligent and loose regard upon him:
|I will come last. 'Tis like he'll question me
|Why such unplausive eyes are bent on him:
|If so, I have derision medicinable,
|To use between your strangeness and his pride,
|Which his own will shall have desire to drink:
|It may be good: pride hath no other glass
|To show itself but pride, for supple knees
|Feed arrogance and are the proud man's fees.
|We'll execute your purpose, and put on
|A form of strangeness as we pass along:
|So do each lord, and either greet him not,
|Or else disdainfully, which shall shake him more
|Than if not look'd on. I will lead the way.
|What, comes the general to speak with me?
|You know my mind, I'll fight no more 'gainst Troy.
|What says Achilles? would he aught with us?
|Would you, my lord, aught with the general?
|Nothing, my lord.
|[Exeunt AGAMEMNON and NESTOR]
|Good day, good day.
|How do you? how do you?
|What, does the cuckold scorn me?
|How now, Patroclus!
|Good morrow, Ajax.
|Ay, and good next day too.
|What mean these fellows? Know they not Achilles?
|They pass by strangely: they were used to bend
|To send their smiles before them to Achilles;
|To come as humbly as they used to creep
|To holy altars.
|What, am I poor of late?
|'Tis certain, greatness, once fall'n out with fortune,
|Must fall out with men too: what the declined is
|He shall as soon read in the eyes of others
|As feel in his own fall; for men, like butterflies,
|Show not their mealy wings but to the summer,
|And not a man, for being simply man,
|Hath any honour, but honour for those honours
|That are without him, as place, riches, favour,
|Prizes of accident as oft as merit:
|Which when they fall, as being slippery standers,
|The love that lean'd on them as slippery too,
|Do one pluck down another and together
|Die in the fall. But 'tis not so with me:
|Fortune and I are friends: I do enjoy
|At ample point all that I did possess,
|Save these men's looks; who do, methinks, find out
|Something not worth in me such rich beholding
|As they have often given. Here is Ulysses;
|I'll interrupt his reading.
|How now Ulysses!
|Now, great Thetis' son!
|What are you reading?
|A strange fellow here
|Writes me: 'That man, how dearly ever parted,
|How much in having, or without or in,
|Cannot make boast to have that which he hath,
|Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection;
|As when his virtues shining upon others
|Heat them and they retort that heat again
|To the first giver.'
|This is not strange, Ulysses.
|The beauty that is borne here in the face
|The bearer knows not, but commends itself
|To others' eyes; nor doth the eye itself,
|That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself,
|Not going from itself; but eye to eye opposed
|Salutes each other with each other's form;
|For speculation turns not to itself,
|Till it hath travell'd and is mirror'd there
|Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.
|I do not strain at the position,--
|It is familiar,--but at the author's drift;
|Who, in his circumstance, expressly proves
|That no man is the lord of any thing,
|Though in and of him there be much consisting,
|Till he communicate his parts to others:
|Nor doth he of himself know them for aught
|Till he behold them form'd in the applause
|Where they're extended; who, like an arch,
|The voice again, or, like a gate of steel
|Fronting the sun, receives and renders back
|His figure and his heat. I was much wrapt in this;
|And apprehended here immediately
|The unknown Ajax.
|Heavens, what a man is there! a very horse,
|That has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are
|Most abject in regard and dear in use!
|What things again most dear in the esteem
|And poor in worth! Now shall we see to-morrow--
|An act that very chance doth throw upon him--
|Ajax renown'd. O heavens, what some men do,
|While some men leave to do!
|How some men creep in skittish fortune's hall,
|Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes!
|How one man eats into another's pride,
|While pride is fasting in his wantonness!
|To see these Grecian lords!--why, even already
|They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder,
|As if his foot were on brave Hector's breast
|And great Troy shrieking.
|I do believe it; for they pass'd by me
|As misers do by beggars, neither gave to me
|Good word nor look: what, are my deeds forgot?
|Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
|Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
|A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
|Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour'd
|As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
|As done: perseverance, dear my lord,
|Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang
|Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
|In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
|For honour travels in a strait so narrow,
|Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path;
|For emulation hath a thousand sons
|That one by one pursue: if you give way,
|Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
|Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by
|And leave you hindmost;
|Or like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank,
|Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
|O'er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present,
|Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours;
|For time is like a fashionable host
|That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
|And with his arms outstretch'd, as he would fly,
|Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,
|And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not
|Remuneration for the thing it was;
|For beauty, wit,
|High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
|Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
|To envious and calumniating time.
|One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
|That all with one consent praise new-born gawds,
|Though they are made and moulded of things past,
|And give to dust that is a little gilt
|More laud than gilt o'er-dusted.
|The present eye praises the present object.
|Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
|That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;
|Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
|Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee,
|And still it might, and yet it may again,
|If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive
|And case thy reputation in thy tent;
|Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late,
|Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves
|And drave great Mars to faction.
|Of this my privacy
|I have strong reasons.
|But 'gainst your privacy
|The reasons are more potent and heroical:
|'Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love
|With one of Priam's daughters.
|Is that a wonder?
|The providence that's in a watchful state
|Knows almost every grain of Plutus' gold,
|Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps,
|Keeps place with thought and almost, like the gods,
|Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.
|There is a mystery--with whom relation
|Durst never meddle--in the soul of state;
|Which hath an operation more divine
|Than breath or pen can give expressure to:
|All the commerce that you have had with Troy
|As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord;
|And better would it fit Achilles much
|To throw down Hector than Polyxena:
|But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home,
|When fame shall in our islands sound her trump,
|And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing,
|'Great Hector's sister did Achilles win,
|But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.'
|Farewell, my lord: I as your lover speak;
|The fool slides o'er the ice that you should break.
|To this effect, Achilles, have I moved you:
|A woman impudent and mannish grown
|Is not more loathed than an effeminate man
|In time of action. I stand condemn'd for this;
|They think my little stomach to the war
|And your great love to me restrains you thus:
|Sweet, rouse yourself; and the weak wanton Cupid
|Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold,
|And, like a dew-drop from the lion's mane,
|Be shook to air.
|Shall Ajax fight with Hector?
|Ay, and perhaps receive much honour by him.
|I see my reputation is at stake
|My fame is shrewdly gored.
|O, then, beware;
|Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves:
|Omission to do what is necessary
|Seals a commission to a blank of danger;
|And danger, like an ague, subtly taints
|Even then when we sit idly in the sun.
|Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus:
|I'll send the fool to Ajax and desire him
|To invite the Trojan lords after the combat
|To see us here unarm'd: I have a woman's longing,
|An appetite that I am sick withal,
|To see great Hector in his weeds of peace,
|To talk with him and to behold his visage,
|Even to my full of view.
|A labour saved!
|Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for himself.
|He must fight singly to-morrow with Hector, and is so
|prophetically proud of an heroical cudgelling that he
|raves in saying nothing.
|How can that be?
|Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock,--a stride
|and a stand: ruminates like an hostess that hath no
|arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning:
|bites his lip with a politic regard, as who should
|say 'There were wit in this head, an 'twould out;'
|and so there is, but it lies as coldly in him as fire
|in a flint, which will not show without knocking.
|The man's undone forever; for if Hector break not his
|neck i' the combat, he'll break 't himself in
|vain-glory. He knows not me: I said 'Good morrow,
|Ajax;' and he replies 'Thanks, Agamemnon.' What think
|you of this man that takes me for the general? He's
|grown a very land-fish, language-less, a monster.
|A plague of opinion! a man may wear it on both
|sides, like a leather jerkin.
|Thou must be my ambassador to him, Thersites.
|Who, I? why, he'll answer nobody; he professes not
|answering: speaking is for beggars; he wears his
|tongue in's arms. I will put on his presence: let
|Patroclus make demands to me, you shall see the
|pageant of Ajax.
|To him, Patroclus; tell him I humbly desire the
|valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector
|to come unarmed to my tent, and to procure
|safe-conduct for his person of the magnanimous
|and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honoured
|captain-general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon,
|et cetera. Do this.
|Jove bless great Ajax!
|I come from the worthy Achilles,--
|Who most humbly desires you to invite Hector to his tent,--
|And to procure safe-conduct from Agamemnon.
|Ay, my lord.
|What say you to't?
|God b' wi' you, with all my heart.
|Your answer, sir.
|If to-morrow be a fair day, by eleven o'clock it will
|go one way or other: howsoever, he shall pay for me
|ere he has me.
|Your answer, sir.
|Fare you well, with all my heart.
|Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?
|No, but he's out o' tune thus. What music will be in
|him when Hector has knocked out his brains, I know
|not; but, I am sure, none, unless the fiddler Apollo
|get his sinews to make catlings on.
|Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him straight.
|Let me bear another to his horse; for that's the more
|My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirr'd;
|And I myself see not the bottom of it.
|[Exeunt ACHILLES and PATROCLUS]
|Would the fountain of your mind were clear again,
|that I might water an ass at it! I had rather be a
|tick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.